Monday, March 31, 2008

Cuts at KPIX
and other CBS O and Os

I recieved a phone call tonight from a friend in the know. He's lucky to still have a job but he's still worried.

About 30 KPIX employees including 5 reporters (plus or minus depending on who you believe) and 5 Freelance Photographers were laid off late last week in a round of reported $1 million budget cuts at each CBS Owned and Operated TV Station.

KPIX's Sacramento Bureau has also been closed down amid the penny pinching.

At the CBS Station in Dallas word on the inside is that 60 employees were given the perverbial pink slip.

The Chicago Sun Times is reporting 17 staffers cut WBBM - CBS 2, including a news anchor and sports anchor.

The article says,

"The latest wave of cutbacks hit the CBS-owned station as part of massive companywide reductions at the network's owned-and-operated outlets"

In this thread there is chatter dedicated to the recent rash of job losses in large markets from Minneapolis to Denver, including someone I've learned a lot from, the new NPPA Editor of the year Shawn Monatano at KCNC.(CLICK HERE TO SEE HIS AWESOME REEL)

Big money pits like Miami aren't even immune to the wave of job cuts. This from an unsourced paragraph copied to the thread by a B-Roll Contributor...

"In Miami, WFOR-4-CBS laid off fired about 15 staffers, some in sales, most in news, including chief photog Curt Calhoun, veteran editor (30 years) Dan Roujansky, freelancer Christina Puig, and reporter Evan Bacon, a 21-year veteran of television news."

That's a lot of good, experienced TV people on the streets. Hopefully they'll land in the right spot.


Side Note - I was googling around and I found this article and I thought I was reading something current until I noticed the 1987 published date on it. It's worth a read.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On Stage with Barack Obama

Sometimes I think my job as a TV News Photographer is equivalent to holding tickets to a front row seat to US and World History. Of course most ot the stuff we shoot is forgotten in days, sometimes minutes but today will be quite the exception, especially if Barack Obama is elected president.

Obama in Greensboro

My part of the Obama coverage was to work with Chad Tucker for our 5 and 6 o'clock reports from the event.

Obama in Greensboro

With our live web stream, one camera had to be wired to our live truck to feed back the video, but that wasn't me. I was the roaming camera to get other video, not just of Barack but also the reactions of the 2000 people who filled the auditorium.

Obama in Greensboro

I wasn't sure at first this was going to be an easy task ,as the media was relagated to 2 risers set many, many rows back from the stage. But just about 45 minutes before the program was to began I found out about another location the media could be.

Obama in Greensboro

The 'cut' area at stage left was a designated area for the media to get cutaways (side and rear views looking back to the audience) of Mr. Obama during his speech. So I made my way to the 'cut' area and I was surprised that more TV folks didn't get shots from this area. Plenty of Print Photogs but only 3 or 4 TV guys used the cut area.

Obama in Greensboro

The oversized American Flag must have been purposely placed because it made a great backdrop for patriotic pictures and video.

The crowd chanted and clapped and whooped and hollered and Obama made his points trying to persude this biased crowd and the many more watching from home to make him a most historic presidential choice.

Obama in Greensboro

After the event, pushing well near our deadline for a 5 o'clock live report we gathered with the other local TV stations onstage, behind the now drawn curtain for a little more of a private moment with the Presidential Candidate. He answered a question or two from each and tried to reassure through our electronic means that he was indeed the best choice for President.

Obama in Greensboro

Who am I to say? And I shouldn't and won't.

Obama in Greensboro

I was just in the moment thinking about this assignment being a front row seat to a truely historical event in the making.

Obama in Greensboro

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Photojournalist Weakly

From the creative mind of a colleague of mine and Stewart's...Jamison Forst has created a series of faux magazine covers dedicated to the lowly Television Photojournalist.

Photojournalist Weakly Vol 1

In this first edition of "Photojournalist Weakly" Stewart "Lenslinger" Pittman poses gayly, yet manly, as he ponders where the digital image may turn up in the future. Now he knows.

The cover speaks for itself.

Stand by for Volumes 2 and 3 that have already been created with 2 other photojournalists as the featured cover models.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Sign From God?

Sometimes we need a little help on our daily assignments and whether that comes from a call to the assignment desk for directions or stopping at a convienence store to get a feel for a neighborhood it's almost a daily occurance for someone to step in with important information to help us get our story.

Today the help we received was a little more ironic, mysterious and maybe a little divine in nature.

Chad Tucker and I were on a late afternoon hunt for a story that was our backup for the day after the players for our first story weren't available until Monday. We drove 50 miles to Danbury looking for the father of the 2 boys who drowned in the Dan River in September of 2006.

The boys' parents are suing DSS for placing the boys with the paternal grandparents who, the suit says, were unable to take care of the boys and that factor and others allowed the boys to wander to the river causing their death.

With no listed phone number we stopped at his house and his parents gave us the information that he was in a nearby town working and they didn't have his cell number. They took our number and said they'd have him call.


As we proceeded to gather information for our story and the afternoon clock ticked away, we knew we didn't have much time to get this story done.

After a quick trip to the courthouse we sat at a convienence store near his house. The people in the store know him and they said he has been working building fences. I looked in the phone book but there are a lot of fence companies so I wasn't going to go down that path.

Almost jokingly Chad and I both wondered aloud about needing a sign from God. About 5 minutes passed and I noticed something that hadn't caught my eye earlier. A fence business sign, with the last name of the man we were looking for. The sign included a cell phone number!


We called and sure enough it was our guy. He came and met us for an interview and then he asked us how we got his number. We told him we got it from the sign and he looked puzzled and we re-explained that it was the one by the store. After a minute he suddenly remembered the sign and we all laughed it off.

But I've got to wonder...why didn't I see the sign sooner and why didn't he remember his own sign?

The Story aired at 5:30

The Lawsuit can be read HERE

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Conversation with a Gangster

The weather was the big news today so you might not have seen this one.  Reporter Caron Myers and I did an interview today that has me scratching my head and police in Alamance County high fiving all around.

The guy in the picture is Thomas Earl Newman Jr.  He found himself in an altercation Monday night and he ended up in Duke Hospital with multiple lacerations.  The other guy is in jail for the attack.

Both Burlington Police and Graham Police say the altercation was gang related and that both the attacker and the victim were gang members.  That got our attention and so we headed to Alamance County to see what was up.

While I was getting footage of the area where the fight happened, Caron did the obligatory 'knock and talk' at the address where we were told people involved in the scuffle lived.

What I heard in my earpiece gave me a chill.  It was Newman behind the apartment door....and he was willing to talk on camera.

You can watch the whole thing at this link:  WATCH RAW INTERVIEW, but to sum it up...Newman told us he is a a member of the GKB (Gang Killer Bloods) and a part of a cleanup crew.

The gang specialists in Alamance County tell us that a clean takes care of retaliation efforts.

The cops in Alamance County that saw the interview say it's some of the best interaction with a gang member they've ever seen.(hence the high fives)

Newman said he wouldn't seek revenge personally but that the 'crip' gang member that attacked him with what he called a "crocidile dundee knife", would get his.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Introducing..the New Girl...
...and her Frat Sisters

Our newest reporter, Roxanna Haynes, hit the streets today. Lucky for us she brought her 4 frat sisters with her when she joined the team.

Frat Girls

Uhm, no. That's actually four of our finest - and I mean that sincerely - photojournalists nicely photoshopped in with Roxanna in the blue shirt.

Some of my fellow photogs couldn't resist the urge when the saw this spiffy picture on her desk last week. A snapshots and few keystrokes later and the Frat Sisters were born.

We put the new 5x7 print over the original in her frame and it was a waiting game. It took a little prodding by the newsroom administrative assistant but when Roxanna finally saw it she was laughing with the rest of us.

Like the caption says..."Welcome to the Family"